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Close-Up

Diane Smith

has been on the air in Connecticut since 1982. An Emmy Award-winning TV journalist, radio talk show host and author, Smith is often called “Connecticut’s ambassador.” Currently, she is the senior producer for programming at CT-N, the Connecticut Network, our state’s version of C-SPAN. As the network’s first on-air host, she has focused on providing more context to the straight political coverage. “It’s really about giving everyone access to their state government,” she says.

CPAN, the nonprofit Connecticut Public Affairs Network that runs CT-N, also manages the Old State House, and Smith produces a series of lunchtime lectures there called Intimate Conversations. “I have a chance to talk with someone intriguing for an hour and let the audience join in,” she says.

On June 12, Smith will talk with former Governor and U.S. Senator Lowell P. Weicker, whom she calls “one of the towering figures on the Connecticut political landscape for nearly three decades.”

How long have you known Senator Weicker?

Thirty years. I met Senator Weicker in 1982 when I came to Connecticut as a reporter at WTNH-TV. I missed his career as a congressman.

When is the last time you saw him?

Last year, when I hosted a live town hall meeting at CPTV on women’s health. Former First Lady Claudia Weicker, a breast cancer survivor, was a panelist, and he came to support her.

Tell us something people may not know about him.

He once went scuba diving with Fidel Castro. They ate the fish they caught for lunch, washed down with rum (Cuban) and white wine (French).

What do you think of him?

I think he is the most courageous politician I have ever covered. And a statesman—those are few and far between these days.

How is your good friend Mika Brzezinski, the former WFSB anchor and now host of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC?

Mika is doing well. The Hollywood Reporter recently named Mika one of the 35 most powerful people in the media. Mika and I are writing a book together on women, weight and body image, which will be published next spring.

Who is your hero and why?

My husband, Tom Woodruff, who reminds me every day to take time to smell the roses. He is a brilliant and diligent public servant working on health care policy in Connecticut.

As a journalist and author of Positively Connecticut, you yourself have been called a Connecticut treasure. Have you visited all 169 cities and towns here?

Pretty close. Former First Lady Nikki O’Neill told me once, “I thought the Guv (Bill O’Neill) and I had been everywhere in this state, but you’ve been to towns I have never heard of.”

What’s your favorite city or town?

I divide my time between West Hartford and East Norwalk but I find something to love in every nook and cranny of Connecticut.

What’s your favorite lunch spot?

The Firebox at Billings Forge. It goes beyond the great food. I support the mission of community building in Frog Hollow. I see they are making a difference.

What are you looking forward to this summer?

Getting into our 22-foot powerboat and cruising the Norwalk Islands. The osprey returned early to their nest in our neighborhood! — Liz Grey Godbout